May has come to an end and we have to say if has been an awesome month for diving in Lembeh! The month did start off a little bit rainy and grey but the diving was anything but sad and gloomy – it has been a great month for Frogfish sightings, octopus encounters, cool Nudis, rare Rhinopias…all the lovely Lembeh Critters!!
We ran our first day trip to Bangka Island, which was a great success. The strong currents brought in lots of pelagics for our group – tuna, trevally and large stingrays!
We have also been trying out some new sites in more southern end of The Straits and come up with a couple of gems in particular one near the monument which was is a Mecca for different types of ghost pipefish!
Work has started in earnest on our artificial reef with a couple of structures in place – we are going to check on them tomorrow and see what has moved in!!
Scubi is now fully settled in as our new resort dog and is busy charming all the guests with his cuteness and annoying Chocolate with his boundless energy!
Over the last couple few days in particular our dive guides ( Opo, Franz and Steven & Helen has been moonlighting as a guide!) have been on top form and pleasing our guests with sightings of Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Wonderpus, Mimic & Blue-Ringed Octopus, Pygmy and Pontohi Seahorses, all different kinds of Ghost Pipefish and so many Frogfish - from Warty to Painted and from Giant to Hairy – we literally have seen them all!! It has been hard to log the dives as we are seeing so much on the dives we are forgetting what we have seen and it like a competition at the dinner table who has seen the coolest critters!!
Lets hope that June is just as good!!
After a quite noisy night due to a huge storm that blew over Lembeh Straits last night ( the thunder was so loud it rattled the bungalows!!) everyone got onto the dive boat looking a little bit sleepy this morning!! As we headed away from the resort, the sun started to peek out from behind the clouds and as we arrived at the dive site we were greeted with crystal clear water ( well very clear for Lembeh!!) so we kitted up quickly and back-rolled in!
As we descended down we came across a Gorgonian fan with 6 little pygmy seahorses on it! I was already pretty impressed with the dive! As we continued descending down to around 22m we met Peacock Mantis Shrimps, pipefish, beautiful nudibranchs and a pair of Robust Ghost Pipefish but as we were watching them Opo and Man ( our Two Guides for the morning) shook their rattles to get our attention and after a minute of staring at this tiny frogfish I realized the significance of the find!! We had come across a Randall’s Frogfish, one of the rarest critters we can find here on the Lembeh Strait!
Antennarius randalli are found on sandy or rubble bottoms and maybe hiding in a soft drinks can or beer bottle! They tend to be found alone and their color can vary immensely from white to yellow to brown or black in order to match their surroundings. It can be distinguished from other frogfish species by a series of small white spots on its body and pectoral fins as you can see from the picture on the right.
Thanks so much to Liz Ward for these great photos that really show off the spots and capturing one of the best and most special finds I’ve experienced!!
Long time friend and fan of Two Fish Divers Steve Childs recently enjoyed another 3 week stint here in the Lembeh Strait with us. Even though his primary interest is cataloguing the many weird and wonderful Nudibranchs and Flabellina we have here in the Straits, he still enjoyed encounters with the other critters we have here especially the Octopi!
We have spent many dives searching for the elusive Blue Ringed Octopus (Genus Hapalochlaena) but on this dive at Critter Hunt, we struck gold! Steve enjoyed some time alone with him but kept a safe enough distance to keep away from that highly venomous bite!! It is hard to believe that something so small, is one the of the deadliest things on the planet! Click on this link to view his video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQz62wYzE30
In a previous blog, you may remember the mention about the giant Mimic Octopus(Thaumoctopus mimicus) that was spotted recently. Sem and Steve found this guy in the shallows at Aer Prang. As you can see from the footage – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dvz5rYixLMk – the octopus is constantly changing his shape and colour. What we found most fascinating is the section where the Mimic is swimming towards the surface, these creatures spend most of their time hiding in the sand checking out its surroundings so seeing one displaying this type of behavior would appear very unusual!
Thanks Steve so much for the links! If anyone else has videos they would like to share then please upload them and send me the link or contact me for Two Fish You Tube account details – firstname.lastname@example.org
As we enter into May the resort has quieted down a little bit, so we are taking advantage of this and going out on some fun dives together! Of course we are also constantly trying spot some cool critters for our guests but our great guides do not need too much help in that department!
As we headed out this morning, it started to drizzle but it didn’t dampen our spirits – we are going to get wet anyway!! We dropped in at Makawide Island and headed off to the dark depths but found some a couple of Thorny Seahorses alongside loads of beautiful nudibranchs. Franz , the guide out diving today spotted a gorgeous Warty Frogfish (Antennarius maculatus) and so the group enjoyed passing the time on their safety stop watching him amble along the rubble!!
After a quick boat ride, we dropped in at our next site – I’m being secretive so the other resorts don’t find out what we found there!! About 15 minutes into our dive, Franz patiently tapped on his tank to get everyone’s attention. I was the first on the scene and was greeted with the amazing sight of this guy!! We see many Hairy Frogfish (Antennarius striatus) here in Lembeh but this was the first time any of us had seen one that was matching the orange sponge that he was sitting next to! He was really acting for us – wriggling his lure like crazy trying to attract some prey!
Frogfish lures their prey actively to where it can strike. Its lure mimics food such as worms or small fish. The prey approaches to catch the lure and then is engulfed by the waiting frogfish. This is known as aggressive mimicry.
Thanks to Gizmo for being on hand with his camera to get a couple of great shots of these amazing fish.
Two Fish Divers Lembeh had an awesome morning of diving today!! Firstly we saw many ( we counted 6 ) Pygmy Seahorses, Pegasus Sea Moths and much more at Nudi Retreat. The dive was nice and relaxing, good viz and no current!! We then moved onto our second site and saw this magnificent Weedy Scorpionfish ( Rhinopias frondosa) . I was particularly happy as it was my first sighting of the famous Rhinopias – they could probably hear me cheering on the boat!!
The Weedy Scorpionfish is a solitary creature and you’ll find him hanging around rubble area between 8-25m. They come in many colours ranging from lavender to red.
Some of our divers were lucky enough to see this giant mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus). The Mimic Octopus are active during the day ( we will soon be posting some awesome footage of this guy – keep an eye out!!), playing by themselves or hiding on sandy bottoms. It is known to mimic up to 17 different species, including sea snake, flounder, lionfish, sting ray and feather star.
Thank you to Frits and Steve for these lovely photos and to everyone for an awesome morning of diving!!